Here you should find book recommendations to help you understand the history and heterogeneous culture of Ukraine, Europe's second largest country.
Yale historian Marci Shore, during an interview in which she picked five of the best Ukraine books, explained that the name 'Ukraine' means 'borderlands', and that it would be wrong to understand the conflict with Russia to run along ethnic grounds: "There’s a sense that if these are Ukrainian speakers on the Maidan, then they must be Ukrainian. And if they’re Russian speakers, they’re really Russian. And if there’s a war going on, it must be the ethnic Russians versus the ethnic Ukrainians," she said. "In my opinion, this would be a deep misunderstanding."
The territory that is now present-day Ukraine, she explained, contains multitudes: "Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Yiddish and German languages, literatures, humors, cultures, joys and despairs [have] intermingled for hundreds of years."
At the time of writing, discussion of Ukraine is dominated by the conflict with Russia. We asked Serhii Plokhy, an eminent Ukrainian historian at Harvard, to recommend five of the best books on Russia-Ukraine relations to help us understand the backdrop to the 2022 invasion. "The point is to finish unfinished business from 2014," he told us. "[Putin's] goal is either to make Ukraine pro-Russian or dismember it."
Serhiy Zhadan, the musician and writer, is one of our most commonly recommended Ukrainian authors; his latest book The Orphanage was published in 2017 and translated into English in 2021. In children's books, we recommend The Mitten by Jan Brett, which is based on a Ukrainian folk tale.
A collection of the iconic speeches of President Volodymyr Zelensky, A Message From Ukraine will be published later this year.
Ukraine and Russia: From Civilied Divorce to Uncivil War
by Paul D'Anieri
Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know
by Serhy Yekelchyk
Ukraine’s Nuclear Disarmament: A History
by Yuri Kostenko
Ukraine in Histories and Stories: Essays by Ukrainian Intellectuals
The Orphanage: A Novel
by Serhiy Zhadan
Thousands of people have been killed since 2014 in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, in a war that has been rife with disinformation, misleading narratives and false flag operations. Here Serhii Plokhy, Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, recommends books to better understand the conflict, from an introductory work by an eminent historian to the latest work of some of Ukraine’s leading novelists.
The tumultuous history of Ukraine and its continuing upheavals are not well understood beyond its borders. Yale historian Marci Shore recommends the best books on the land of many identities and languages that is modern Ukraine.
Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy
by Serhii Plokhy
Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry
by Sonja D Schmid
Voices From Chernobyl
by Svetlana Alexievich
Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project
by Peter Bacon Hales
The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl
by Olga Kuchinskaya
While widely regarded as the world’s worst nuclear accident, Chernobyl’s legacy remains fiercely contested, with death tolls ranging from 31 to 200,000. MIT historian Kate Brown, who has spent years in the Chernobyl archives, picks the best books on the disaster, compares its impact with atomic bomb testing, and argues for more research into low-dose radiation exposure